Here in Israel we have just passed through a roller-coaster period of seasons, beginning with great rejoicing during Purim that started about sixweeks ago, through Passover in which we celebrated physical deliverance from Egypt and spiritual deliverance from sin and death. Then last week the mood changed drastically as we remembered the six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis, and then last week began with a memorial for the 23,085 heroes and heroines of the Israeli military who laid down their lives so that the people of Israel may live in safety, and also the 2,493 victims of terrorism. And lastly, the very next day, the country broke out into celebration for 65 years of Israel’s independence. Just as the driving rainand cold weather has suddenly turned to glorious sunshine, Israel’s rhythm of sadness and celebration throughout the year reminds us that seasons change. Most will know the famous song “Turn, turn, turn”, sung by the Byrds from 1965 that is based on the verses of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8;
“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace”.
Thousands crowded into the small plaza in front of the Western Wall for the IDF memorial day that has just past. The siren sounded, the Guard of Honour stood in attention and the flag was lowered to half mast. As the television cameras panned across the people, close-ups of some of those gathered were shown throughout the ceremony. These are the grief stricken faces of those who have lost loved ones over the past 65 years of Israels miraculous existence, and even from before 1948. Husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunties – so many families that have lost someone that they love and hold dear, so much sadness and so much pain. Then, as the sun set on Monday evening, the rejoicing came, celebrating the 65th year for the State of Israel that came about thanks to God’s sovereignty and the ultimate sacrifice made by tens of thousands of men and women.
For everything there is a season, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. It seems that these opposites are ever so clear in the reality of life in Israel, and especially during this time of the year. As we read God’s word we see that there are seasons for everything that have been ordained by Him. 2000 years ago, when the Jewish people as a nation turned their back to the Messiah, and the One who sent Him, a time began where God hid His face from His people. God told Moses that this would happen after his death in Deuteronomy 31:16-18. It happened once during the Babylonian exile and it happened again after Yeshua was rejected as Messiah, as He also foretold the disciples:
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near… For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:20, 23-24)
Notice that there is a very important word in the verse above and it is a key word that has been missed by many. The word is “until”.
The captivity of the Jewish people and the trampling of Jerusalem by the nations would only be until a certain time. God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to the Jewish people saying:
“For a mere moment I have forsaken you, But with great mercies I will gather you. With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you, Says the Lord, your Redeemer. For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, So have I sworn That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed, Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.”
The Lord’s anger would not burn forever against His people, and although He said the He would punish His people for their deeds, He promised never to make a complete end of the seed of Jacob, something He that was not promised to any other nation on the earth.
Some believe that 65 years ago, on May 14th 1948, the tides changed, and the times of Gentiles began to come to an end. Others may consider the restoration of Jerusalem to Jewish hands in 1967 as the defining moment, and others still may argue that the times of the Gentiles have not yet come to an end. Whatever your position, it is clear that the times are rapidly changing and prophetic history is unfolding before our eyes, even as you read these lines, for the time to favour Zion has come. Notice these wonderful words from Psalm 102:
“But You, O Lord, shall endure forever, And the remembrance of Your name to all generations. You will arise and have mercy on Zion; For the time to favor her, Yes, the set time, has come. For Your servants take pleasure in her stones, And show favor to her dust. So the nations shall fear the name of the Lord, And all the kings of the earth Your glory. For the Lord shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory. He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, And shall not despise their prayer.“
The time to build up Zion has come. When we look at the miracle birth and at the amazing achievements of the small nation of Israel, not only for its own benefit but for the entire world, we can see that this is not something of man’s doing. It has been ordained and orchestrated by the Holy One of Israel, blessed be His mighty name! We wish Israel the best birthday gift that it could receive, the full knowledge of Messiah Yeshua, through whom comes the salvation, comfort and joy that this nation so desperately needs. May we see it happen speedily in our day, and, no matter what may come in the future, rest assured that our times and the times of His people Israel are in His hands. There are cycles, there are seasons, and there is thesteady march onwards towards God’s appointed plans which cannot be thwarted.
“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, You are my God. My times are in Your hand” (Psalm 31:14-15).
Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash